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Sourcebook for The Cultures of the West, Volume One



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Oxford University Press
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  • Sources for Cultures of the West Volume 1: To 1750
    Sources for Cultures of the West Volume 1: To 1750


Designed to accompany The Cultures of the West by Clifford R. Backman (OUP, 2012), the two-volume Sources for The Cultures of the West features approximately six written sources per chapter that highlight key themes in the study of Western civilization. Each of the 130 sources is accompanied by a headnote. Each volume begins with a special unit, "How to Read a Primary Source," that provides students with important advice on how to work with textual documents in studying the past.

Sources for The Cultures of the West is FREE when bundled with The Cultures of the West. Please contact your OUP representative to request a package ISBN.

Author Biography

Clifford R. Backman is Professor of History at Boston University. He is the author of The Worlds of Medieval Europe, Second Edition (OUP, 2008), and The Decline and Fall of Medieval Sicily: Politics, Religion, and Economy in the Reign of Frederick III, 1296-1337 (1995).

Table of Contents

How to Read a Primary Source

Chapter 1: Water and Soil, Stone and Metal
1.1 Shamash Hymn, c.2000-c.1600 BCE
1.2 "Poem of the Righteous Sufferer," c.2000-1600 BCE
Chapter 2: Law Givers, Evil Emperor, and Dangerous Gods
2.1 Laws of Hammurabi, c.1772 BCE
2.2 Egyptian Book of the Dead: "Negative Confession," in use ca.1550 BCE-50 BCE
2.3 Great Hymn to the Aton, 14th century BCE
2.4 "Epic of Gilgamesh," 18th century-7th century BCE
2.5 "Tale of Sinuhe," earliest MS c. 1800 BCE
2.6 "Loyalist Teaching," c. 1550-c. 1000 BCE
Chapter 3: The Chosen People
3.1 Book of Genesis: Noah and the Flood, Chapters 6-9, compiled by 5th century BCE
3.2 Book of Exodus: Moses and Pharaoh, Chapters 7, 11-12, and 14, compiled by 5th century BCE
3.3 First Book of Kings, King Solomon and the Temple, chapters 6-8
3.4 Book of Jeremiah, Prophecy to Israel, chapters 7 and 8, written ca. 6th century BCE
Chapter 4: Greeks and Persians
4.1 Homer, The Iliad, 8th century BCE
4.2 Hesiod, Works and Days, last third of 8th century BCE
4.3 Herodotus on the Egyptians, from Histories, c.450-c.420 BCE
4.4 Thucydides, Peloponnesian War, early 5th century BCE
Chapter 5: Hellenim and Second Temple Judaism
5.1 Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound (undated; 5th century)
5.2 Book of Ezra, Rebuilding the Temple, chapters 1-3, 5-6, written ca. mid-5th century BCE
5.3 Plato, Symposium, 385-380 BCE
5.4 Aristotle, "On the Elements of Tragedy" (Poetics, Book VI), ca. 335 BCE
5.5 Diogenes Laërtius, "Life of Zeno of Citium," The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, ca. first half of 3rd century CE
Chapter 6: The Empire of the Sea: Rome
6.1 Epictetus, Enchiridion, I, V, XIV, recorded early 2nd century
6.2 Tacitus, Histories, before 117
6.3 From Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Caligula; Claudius, ca.119 CE
6.4 Virgil, Aeneid, between 29 and 19 BCE
6.5 Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, c.170-180 CE
Chapter 7: Paganisms and Christianities
7.1 Josephus, The Jewish War, c.75 CE
7.2 Pliny the Younger, Letters, 97-112
7.3 Gospel of Thomas, 4th century?
7.4 Celsus/Origen, Contra Celsus, book I, chapters 6, 28; book III, chapters 62; book IV, chapter 73; book VIII, chapters 41, 49, 55; ca. 177 CE
7.5 Minucius Felix, Octavius, chapter 30, "Ritual Cannibalism Charge against Christians," 3rd century CE
7.6 Augustine of Hippo, Seventh Discourse on the Gospel of John
Chapter 8: The Early Middle Ages
8.1 The Nicene Creed, Two Versions
8.2 Gildas, On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain, ca. 525-ca. 540
8.3 Gregory the Great, "Life of St. Benedict," 593 CE
8.4 Bede, Ecclesiastical History of English People, completed ca. 731
8.5 Dhuoda, Handbook for William, 841/843
8.6 From Trotula, 13th century
Chapter 9: Reform and Renewal
9.1 Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, written ca. 817-833
9.2 Guibert de Nogent, Gesta Dei, 1107-1108
9.3 Usamah ibn Munqidh, Memoirs, 1183
9.4 Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed, 12th century
9.5 From "Song of Roland," ca. 1140-ca. 1170
Chapter 10: Worlds Brought Down
10.1 Dante, Divine Comedy: "Paolo and Francesca" from Inferno
10.2 Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, after 1373
10.3 From Froissart, "On Flagellants," 1369-1400
10.4 One Thousand and One Nights, 12th century
Chapter 11: Renaissance and Reformations
11.1 Petrarch, Letters, 1352 and 1366/7
11.2 Erasmus, Letter to a friend, Julius excluded, and Introduction to the Gospels, first published 1522
11.3 Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy, ca.1517?
11.4 From Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (Mad Orlando), published 1516
11.5 Martin Luther, "Preface to the New Testament," first published 1522
11.6 Cellini, My Life, 1558-1563
11.7 Vasari, Lives of Artists, first published in 1550, revised and added to until 1568
Chapter 12: The Last Crusades
12.1 Bartolomé de las Casas, A Short Account, written 1542; published 1552
12.2 John Foxe, Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Trial of Anne Askew
12.3 From Christopher Marlowe, The Massacre at Paris, ca.1593
12.4 Johannes Junius, Letter to His Daughter and Trial Transcript, 1628
Chapter 13: Science Breaks Out and Breaks Through
13.1 Galileo Galilei, Letter to Don Benedetto Castelli, December 21, 1613
13.2 John Donne, Sermon (December 12, 1626); "To his Mistress Going to Bed" (1669)
13.3 Thomas Hobbes, "On Natural Law," Leviathan, 1651
13.4 Descartes, A Discourse on the Method, 1637
Chapter 14: From Westphalia to Paris: Regimes Old and New
14.1 Anne of France, Lessons for My Daughter (end 16th century)
14.2 Cardinal Richelieu, "The Role of the King," Political Testament, ca. 1638, first published 1688
14.3 François Fénelon, The Adventures of Telemachus, 1699
14.4 Molière, The Misanthrope, first performed 1666

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